Coburn: ‘We didn’t really see any upside in waiting’

Florida State athletics director David Coburn stepped up to the podium on Monday and was candid.

“It was a rough weekend,” Coburn told the media. “I had to fire a friend yesterday.”

Coburn spoke less than 24 hours after he dismissed Willie Taggart, who had gone 9-12 in less than two seasons. Taggart was also 0-5 against Florida, Clemson and Miami, including the 27-10 loss to the Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.

FSU was 4-5 after the defeat. Coburn and president John Thrasher saw the season slipping away.

“We looked at the pluses and minuses, and we didn’t really see any upside to waiting,” Coburn said. “We wanted to go ahead and get started with a search, see if we could get somebody in here ready to go as quickly as possible. Frankly, 6-6 isn’t good enough, and we didn’t see an advantage to waiting until the end.”

Declining season ticket sales and booster contributions were factors in the decision, Coburn said. A season-high 63,995 attended Saturday’s game and prior games attracted considerably less. “We looked at it pretty thoroughly,” Coburn said.

Coburn has appointed Odell Haggins as interim head coach. Haggins went 2-0 as FSU’s interim following Jimbo Fisher’s departure for Texas A&M. 

And Haggins is tasked with helping right the course as FSU looks for two more wins to help the Seminoles become bowl-eligible. FSU plays at Boston College on Saturday at noon (ACC Network).

Coburn said FSU will hire a national search firm. He did not specify any particular criteria that he is looking for beyond stating “somebody who is going to help us win national championships. “We’re going to get back to the standard of Florida State football.”

He would like to have a coach in place before the end of the regular season.

There will be no other changes to the assistant coaching staff, Coburn stated. FSU has an opening where an analyst – such as Jim Leavitt or Stanford Samuels Jr. – could become an on-field assistant coach for the final three regular-season games.

Coburn estimated that Taggart’s buyout would be in the $18 million range. He did not specify when the money would be paid or if an agreement to terms had been reached. Taggart’s signed letter of agreement was set to run through Jan. 2024 but he never signed his contract with the school, a Florida State spokesperson confirmed.

FSU has been fundraising for a football-only building as part of a $100 million Unconquered Campaign. Coburn said that Taggart’s buyout would “hopefully not” cause a delay in the beginning of construction. No date has been set for groundbreaking.